ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is to visit China next week as Islamabad sinks deeper into a domestic and international crisis over the US killing of Osama bin Laden on its territory.
Gilani will begin the four-day visit on May 17 and hold talks with Chinese leaders on "important bilateral and region issues", a Pakistani government official told AFP.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu confirmed Gilani will meet President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
"Leaders of the two countries will exchange views on bilateral relations and promote practical cooperation across the border as well as other issues of common interest," she said.
The spokeswoman described China and Pakistan as "good neighbours, friends, partners and brothers".
"We are satisfied with the status quo of our bilateral relations and we are full of confidence in the prospects of China-Pakistan relations."
Pakistan's leadership has been all but paralysed since May 2 when elite Navy SEALs flew in, seemingly undetected, identified and killed bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad and flew off with his body.
Pakistanis are up in arms at the perceived impunity of the raid, and are also furiously asking whether their military was too incompetent to know bin Laden was living close to a major military academy, or, even worse, conspired to protect him.
In a speech taking veiled swipes at the United States and denying charges of incompetence or complicity over bin Laden, Gilani on Monday hailed China as Pakistan's "all weather friend" during an address to parliament.
His praise of China as a "source of inspiration" was in marked contrast to his insistence to the United States that Pakistan reserves the right to "retaliate with full force" in case of a similar US operation in the future.
The fact that bin Laden was holed up for up to five years in the garrison city less than a mile from Pakistan's top military academy and only two hours' drive from Islamabad has hugely strained ties with the United States.